What is Saleema: “Every Girl is Born Saleema…… Let Every Girl Grow Saleema”.

Alula Berhe – Haffiya Elyas

Saleema initiative was launched in 2008 by the National Council for Child Welfare (NCCW) in collaboration with the UNICEF Sudan, with the aim to support the efforts to abandon Female Genital Mutilation/Cut (FGM/C) by adding a new discourse to include positive communication approaches with families and communities by promoting wide usage of new positive terminology to describe the natural bodies and social status of girls and women.

“Saleema” is the Arabic word that means “whole, healthy in body and mind, unharmed, pristine and perfect in God-given condition”. “Saleema Initiative” emanated from the recognition of the language gap whereas the word used to describe ‘stigmatize’ uncircumcised girl/woman in all states of the Sudan is (ghalfa), which is a derogatory expression suggesting disgrace, degradation, vile social status and inappropriate behavior, while the words used to describe the circumcised girl / woman are positive suggesting “purity and chastity” so the word “Saleema” emerged as a positive description of uncircumcised girls and women and thus “Saleema Campaign” came to represent a turning point and shift from focusing on the problem to focusing on the solutions, besides the feelings associated with it comprise a high degree of confidence, optimism and positivity in engaging others, in general and stakeholders in particular, through the Campaign’s key message “Every Girl is Born Saleema…… Let Every Girl Grow Saleema”. One of the most prominent successes of the Campaign is the focus on positive messages and mass abandonment of female circumcision i.e. female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) whereas a number of mass advertisements were made, whilst a large number of religious scholars and preachers (clerics) stressed the legitimacy / permissibility of leaving the girl Saleema (intact and perfectly healthy) from the religious point of view.
Saleema Campaign comprises a number of Sub-Initiatives such as Sufara Saleema (ambassadors), which includes a number of dignitaries and iconic community symbols who are committed to promoting the concept of Saleema in their own activities and gatherings, plus the ‘Born Saleema Initiative’ in hospitals and health centers in seven states to enlighten and educate mothers on the advantages of leaving their girls Saleema (uncut) and took pledges from mothers and families to leave their daughters Saleema and the Media Initiative to promote for the concept of Saleema through the various mass media.
The rapidly increasing turn out to the use of online electronic media and satellite TV channels and radios and their strong effect on the social behavior, attitudes, trends and orientation are used and have made a significant impact in promoting communications around Saleema and Saleema toolkits
The campaigns target broad sectors of the society to encourage the families and communities to leave their daughters Saleema (uncut, sound and healthy) as created by God to emphasize the responsibility of everyone for the protection of girls.
The National Council for Child Welfare (NCCW) assumed, with the support from the UNICEF Sudan, the social marketing of Saleema toolkits within the framework of supporting the global, regional and local efforts (governmental and CSOs) to promote the rights of the child, especially the child-girls facing the risk of Female Genital Mutilation/Cut (FGM/C) of all kinds.

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